The Monument is a 202-foot-tall Doric column that was erected to commemorate the Great Fire of London that devastated the city in September 1666. It is the tallest isolated stone column in the world and the 202 feet in the structure’s height is significant in that it is also the distance that the Monument stands from the point in which the fire started. Construction began in 1671 and was completed in 1677.
The column itself is made of Portland stone, a kind of limestone that comes from the Isle of Portland in Dorset. It is topped by a flaming urn made of gilt bronze, causing the whole thing to look like a giant candle. Around the pedestal are engravings and a sculpture showing the destruction and restoration of the city.
Visitors are allowed to climb the 311 steps to the top of the column to get some great views of the city. Adult admission is £4 (~$6.04 USD), but I bought a joint ticket with the Tower Bridge earlier for £10.50 (~$15.87 USD), saving a few pounds than if I had bought each ticket separately. The walk up can be very narrow, especially if you have people coming down as well, but it is worth it to make it all the way to the top.
The views are just fantastic, though you do have to deal with a protective cage that was put up to prevent any more deaths after six people had already committed suicide. Oddly enough, two of those who perished were bakers and one was the daughter of a baker. Maybe the significance that the Great Fire started out in a bakery was not lost on them when they chose this site to end their life. Anyway, again, the views are fantastic, especially on a clear day.
After you descend, you are given a commemorative certificate acknowledging that you braved the 311-step climb. It’s a pretty neat souvenir of your experience.
The closest tube station to the Monument is the conveniently named Monument station that you can reach using the District and Circle lines. If you don’t want to deal with going on the London Eye, then the Monument is a great and much cheaper alternative to see the city from above.